Born to manifest God’s glory

In this clip from Akeelah and the Bee, 11-year-old Akeelah is asked by her potential mentor, Dr. Larabee, to read a quote from Marianne Williamson that hangs on his wall. In part, it reads, “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” Larabee is trying to get Akeelah to recognize the God-given potential that lies within her, and to overcome the fear of being everything God has created her to be.

Jesus

When we think about Jesus, we sometimes forget that he used to be 11 years old. Jesus was not born knowing his full identity and mission as the Son of God. He was born as an ordinary child to ordinary parents in the first century—what the Bible identifies as “the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus.” His mother was a young girl, maybe a teenager, who was not married when she got pregnant. When he was still a young man, in his early 30s, he was executed by the Roman government, allegedly for crimes against the state. There is more to his biography, but the point is that there is a biography. Jesus was a flesh-and-blood human being who was born, lived, and died—just like the rest of us. He had the same weaknesses, doubts, and fears that we all have. However, by overcoming his fear and staying true to the purpose he was on earth for, his full identity was revealed to the world.

Perfect revelation of God:

To see Jesus is to see his Father (John 14:9). For this reason Jesus perfected revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making himself present and manifesting himself: through his words and deeds, his signs and wonders, but especially through his death and glorious resurrection from the dead and final sending of the Spirit of truth.

Constitution on Divine Revelation, 4

Christ

That identity is Christ. “Christ” is a title. The word is Greek. In Hebrew, it is translated as “Messiah.” In English, it is translated as “Anointed.” Since ancient times, the Jewish people had been waiting for “the Messiah,” which God had promised to send them. This person, they believed, would be “anointed” or “consecrated” by God to save the Jewish people. It was not immediately apparent to those around him that Jesus was the promised Messiah. It probably was not completely apparent to Jesus until close to the time of his execution. But ironically, it was the execution itself which was the moment of revelation when Jesus’ family and followers finally understood who he was. What they finally understood was that Jesus was the only Son of God. Which meant that Jesus was God. From here, things get a little complicated. So let’s take a breath and clarify where we are.

  • Jesus was a human person, with a biography, who was born, lived, and died.
  • Jesus had a title or a job, which was given to him by God. His job was to save people.
  • It turns out that Jesus was the only Son of God. Which means he is also God. But most of his family and followers did not fully realize this until he died.

If you grew up Christian, like I did, this may not seem too complicated. But try to imagine telling this to someone who has never heard this story before. What we are saying is Jesus was human and Jesus was God. And we are saying that God died. And we are saying that it was not until the Son of God died that people knew he was, in fact, God. Frankly, that sounds a little nuts. How could anyone get their head around this idea in a way that would make sense in their everyday lives?

At first glance, it seems like you’d have to suspend your belief in rational thinking—like when you watch a science fiction movie and you “forget” for an hour or two that Martians don’t really exist and interplanetary travel is not possible. So how do we sort this out? Is it possible to have an adult, rational, not-nutty image of who Jesus is? And if it is possible, is that image—that idea—really going to matter in our everyday lives? I think so, but it’s not a sure bet. Because before we can say much about who Jesus is, we have to first say something about who God is. More about that in the next post. What do you think?

  • How do you explain the fact that Jesus Christ is both human and divine?
  • Do you believe equally in both realities, or do you lean toward one or the other?
See also these related articles:

  1. The reason to be Catholic—Jesus Christ
  2. Finding faith at the Dairy Queen
  3. The Mass that changed my life
  4. Born to manifest God’s glory
  5. Jesus is love; Jesus is God
  6. Why Jesus was born

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